Leap Venture Studio (Leap) today announced the launch of Leap Venture Academy, a program that will foster the growth of early stage pet care startups. Leap Venture Academy connects pet care entrepreneurs with the resources they need to create innovative products and expand their businesses in the fast growing pet industry.
The Academy is a series of open pre-accelerator and community-building activities for early stage pet care startups and others in the space. Leap Venture Academy events will be held year round and will be conducted both in person and online. Activities include pitch competitions, bootcamps, classes, webinars, meetups and hackathons. Our goal is to engage with startups regularly and connect them to educational and networking opportunities, potential mentors, advisors, partners, and investors.
The program is an extension of a successful collaboration between Kinship, a division of Mars Petcare; Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to keeping pets safe at home with the pet parents who love them; and R/GA Ventures, the investment arm of the global agency R/GA.
“We were thrilled at the demand for Leap Venture Studio from pet care startups, and learned that we needed to create more outlets for development and growth,” says Ben Jacobs, Head of Ventures and Partnerships at Kinship. “Leap Venture Academy will help the earlier stage developing startups get the resources and support they need to prepare them for the future.”
Leap Venture Academy events, which will be held throughout the year, beginning next month, will be conducted both in-person and online. Activities will include pitch competitions, bootcamps, classes, webinars, meetups and hackathons. Additionally, Leap Venture Studio announced that applications open in the fall for the third cohort of startups for the accelerator program running February through May 2020 in Los Angeles.
“With the introduction of the Leap Venture Academy plus the third Leap Venture Studio cohort, we are excited to continue and expand our support for the growing community of innovators in our industry with a range of resources for companies at all stages of development,” says Aimee Gilbreath, Executive Director, Michelson Found Animals. “And we’re also pleased to continue to host the third Leap program here in Los Angeles, our home market and the source of a wealth of innovation.”
For the past twelve weeks, the six startups sought solutions to their business challenges, as they received access to a wide range of business networks, industry knowledge and creative capital. At demo day, the companies, whose focus ranged from AI, to sustainability, to food, were given the opportunity to pitch their businesses to investors and potential industry partners. The event also included a panel session on the future of pet care that featured industry leaders including Aimee Gilbreath (Executive Director, Michelson Found Animals Foundation), Brett Podolsky (Co-founder, Farmer’s Dog), Jenna White (Senior Director, Rover.com), and Rena Crumplen (Global VP of Research and Development, Mars Petcare).
The six graduates of this year’s demo day include:
- Barkibu (Cambre, Spain), helps pet parents understand their pet’s health and navigate them to the appropriate care through an AI-powered pet health platform.
- Jiminy’s (Berkeley, CA) replaces animal protein with cricket protein, creating a line of sustainable pet food.
- PetReleaf (Littleton, CO) is redefining what healthy means for pets through the power of hemp.
- Shameless Pets (Chicago, IL) works to reduce the environmental impact of pet food through their nutritional, upcycled treats.
- Smalls (New York, NY) makes human grade food for cats that leaves the fillers and mystery ingredients behind.
- Sniffspot (Seattle, WA) is a marketplace platform that connects owners to different outdoor locations, unlocking new spaces for pets.
Leap was founded in 2018 by Mars Petcare, a global leader in pet nutrition and health care, and Michelson Found Animals Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to keeping animals in their homes. Leap is focused on springboarding innovation in the growing pet ecosystem to create a better world for pets and their owners.